Press Release

Record Number of Medicines in Development for Diabetes

PhRMA April 30, 2013

Charleston, W.Va. (May 25, 2010) – A record 235 new medicines to treat diabetes, one of the fastest-growing diseases in the U.S., are being developed by America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, according to a national report [read the report] unveiled today in Charleston.

In West Virginia, 11.4% of the adult population suffers from diabetes – a rate that has more than doubled since 1994. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of data from 2006-2008, West Virginia has the highest rate of diabetes in the U.S.

“We released this report in West Virginia because of the state’s alarming rates of diabetes, which unfortunately reflect a trend prevalent throughout the nation,” said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). “Perhaps the most shocking and disturbing trend is the rise of diabetes among children, which the American Diabetes Association calls ‘a new epidemic.’”

Type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to lifestyles, was once called “adult onset” diabetes because it was so rare among children. But as more and more children are increasingly overweight or obese and inactive, the disease is being seen in even very young children. If present trends continue, one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

“As a nation, we must step up our efforts to stop this alarming trend, and at the same time continue our strong commitment to the cutting-edge research that allows diabetes patients to manage their disease and live longer, healthier, more productive lives,” said Johnson.

“Medical advances made over the past several decades have revolutionized how we battle diabetes and its complications. Still, it takes a terrible toll on patients and our healthcare system,” Johnson added. “This report illustrates the exciting work being pursued by our companies’ dedicated researchers on behalf of patients and their families awaiting new treatments and renewed hope.”

The report was released at a press conference featuring American TV icon Jerry Mathers, most famed for his role as “The Beaver” in the television classic, “Leave It To Beaver.” Mathers, who suffers from diabetes, works to foster prevention awareness and calls on those who have the disease to seek proper treatment. Of the nearly 24 million Americans afflicted with diabetes, an estimated six million don’t know they have it. Another three million know but are not being treated and thus risk severe complications.

“As a patient who must cope every day with the effects of diabetes, I understand only too well the value of medicines and lifestyle changes,” said Mathers, who is national spokesman for the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Since its launch in 2005, the PPA has helped more than 6.5 million uninsured and financially struggling Americans – including more than 60,000 West Virginians – gain access to programs that provide medicines for free or nearly free.

The new medicines for diabetes currently in the pipeline, all of which are in clinical trials or awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration, include numerous drugs to treat eye diseases associated with diabetes and medicines to treat foot ulcers that could reduce the need for amputations. Researchers are pushing into new territories that include gene therapy and are working on such treatments as a once-weekly medication similar to a natural hormone critical to blood sugar regulation.

Of the medicines listed in the report, 36 have been or will be part of clinical trials conducted in West Virginia. Patients are currently being recruited for clinical trials in Lewisburg and Burnsville.

“Such research has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of millions of Americans. After all, diabetes not only causes great suffering to patients and their families, but also extracts a heavy economic cost,” said Johnson. It has been estimated that in West Virginia alone, diabetes costs nearly a billion dollars a year in medical treatments and lost productivity.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.

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